Tile adhesive or thinset? [Archive] - Ceramic Tile Advice Forums - John Bridge Ceramic Tile


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08-30-2001, 05:33 PM

I just bought an old house an am tiling the kitchen floor, kitchen countertops and bathroom walls and yes, this is my first tiling project.

I have been reading books, magazines, and online chats about tiling and have read that sometimes you use premixed tile adhesive (that comes in a bucket) and sometimes you use thinset. However, I have not come to understand when I use thinset and when I use prefabricated adhesive. Are there any rules I should be aware of? Any advice on this would be tremendously helpful.

Thank you,

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Rob Z
08-30-2001, 06:38 PM
Hi Eve

Thanks for visiting us, and we hope that you'll stop by often as you do your projects.

The two main categories of setting materials that you need to be familiar with are mastics and cement mortars.

There is another category-epoxy-but that won't be something you're likely to use.

Mastics are premixed, easy to use, sag resistant and weak compared to cement mortars. They don't hold up under exposure to water, and should never be used in wet areas or on floors.

Cement mortars, of which there are several varieties, are strong and can stand up under exposure to water and many other stresses placed on a tile installation. Cement mortars "sag" on walls until they cure, which makes them a bit more time consuming somethimes than mastic.

Cement mortars are often called "thinsets", and need to be mixed with water or a latex additive.

It would be okay to use mastic on backsplashes, ceilings, and wainscots. Use cement mortars every where else.

I hope this gets you started. Have you bought any books about tile setting? Two that I consider to be invaluable are John's and the book by Michael Byrne (listed on John's homepage).

Let us know how we can help.

Rob Z

John Bridge
08-31-2001, 05:58 PM
Where are you, Eve?


I chased Eve over here from another board that I answer questions on. Told her she needed more help than I could give her there. Hope she checks in, or she might end up following the advice of the "expert" at Home . . . .

Rob Z
08-31-2001, 08:53 PM

Just say NO to advice from HD.

come on back and visit us.


09-06-2001, 12:35 PM
Rob and John,

Thank you for your responses. I got slammed with work and didn't see your responses sooner.

Thanks for the clarification. Looks like I'll be using thinset for all of my tile setting and I'll be tackling the kitchen floor this weekend, so keep your fingers crossed. I'm also going to be tiling my shower next weekend so I have to read up on the chats.

And I live in Denver, CO.

Thank you!

John Bridge
09-06-2001, 05:10 PM
Sounds like a full plate, Eve. We're open 24-7.